In the Rearview
A Mouthful of Pride

“I’m sorry, but this is going to feel a bit uncomfortable,” the dentist told me as he dangled a three-inch needle above my mouth.

“I don’t care,” I said. “Let’s just get this over with.”

“Ya know, I’ve never seen anything quite this bad before,” he said, as he proceeded to jab at my gums. “And you say this was caused by a piece of candy?”

“Uhh-Huu,” I replied with mouth wide open.

“I bit wider please…what kind of candy did you say it was?”

“Uhh Hoarrheaad,” I said, as I stretched my jaw to the mandible-cramping max, wondering how he could possibly understand what I just said, or if he really cared.

“Mmm, I’ve never heard of that one. Well, whatever it was, wounds like this are typical of acid burns.”

That’s just great…and this is supposed to help, I thought to myself as the good dentist continued tattooing my gums with whatever medicine he was applying, seeming almost giddy adding insult to injury. What in the world had possessed me to keep sucking on that candy?! Never mind that I considered myself “Queen of the Atomic Fireball,” the only one in my circle of girlfriends able to suck, two-at-a-time no less, on those mouth-scorching jawbreakers…and without breaking even a single bead of sweat. Why, if I could do that, I could certainly handle one little Warhead!

“Ok, now this is going to sting,” the dentist warned.

Oh that figures, a little salt-in-the-wound reward for enduring the past four long days of hellish pain, gums road-rash red, bleeding from exposed nerve-endings…you’d think I’d scoured my mouth with 40-grit sandpaper and rinsed with Ajax! Oh, how I’d like to give the maker of this so-called “candy” a piece of my mind…tell that sadist where he can stick his Warhead!

“Does that hurt too much?”

“Aahh-Aahh.” Hurt too much? No, it hurts just enough. I suppose there must be some sort of “hair-of-the-dog” logic to this treatment…a final jab that says, you won’t do that again will you?

“That’s it, just a few more minutes and we’ll be finished.”

Warhead…HA! What will they come up with next? I can see it now…a variety of gummi-candy called Toxic Goo. Let’s see my teenage son and his friend dare me to try that one! They couldn’t even handle 4 seconds of the Warhead! But I showed them…kept sucking to the very end!

“Wow, these wounds are worse than I thought! How long did you keep that candy in your mouth?”

“Aa-out -irty -inutes.”

“Thirty minutes?! You’re lucky to have any gums left at all. Ya know, you’d have been better off swallowing that thing…the stomach is custom-built to handle such punishment.”

Yes doctor, by now, I hear ya on that one!

“Ok, that should do it. I hope your bet was worth at least a hundred and eighty dollars.”

“I wish,” I said, humbly sitting up from the chair, mouth swollen and throbbing, aching like the worst-ever oral hangover, “At this point I don’t even think I won bragging rights.”

IIt ain't the heat, it's the humility.

        Yogi Berra